Groundwork's chief executive, Sir Tony Hawkhead, has said that a greater sense of scale and urgency is needed to increase take up of the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) in order to save lives this winter and cut carbon in the long-term.
Groundwork operates a network of ‘Green Doctors’ who help vulnerable tenants make their homes more energy efficient. Responding to the government’s announcement on energy bills, Sir Tony said:
“While we recognise the government’s efforts in tackling rising fuel bills, we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of the original purpose of ECO – which is a levy designed in part to support the most vulnerable in our society out of fuel poverty.
“Official figures released last week show more than 31,000 people died needlessly during last winter’s freezing weather, of which about 10,000 deaths are estimated to have been the result of cold homes. It is further estimated that treating the symptoms of fuel poverty costs the NHS £1.3 bn each year.
“This can be tackled by supporting people to put in place simple measures that will keep them warm and make their homes more energy efficient.
“How this support is paid for is a matter for government, but in our experience take up of ECO is low as potentially eligible claimants are confused by the sheer complexity of the eligibility criteria.
“Energy companies are not in the best position to engage with consumers on this issue, as they are often viewed with mistrust. The government must instead be bold by investing in trusted intermediaries in the heart of the communities most in need of support and who are best placed to help them cut through the confusion and drive forward action on the ground at scale.
“As our thoughts turn to our families and the fast approaching festive season, we should do everything in our power to help the millions of families and children who are facing a bleak midwinter.”
For further information, contact:
Garry Campbell, Communications Manager, Groundwork UK on
0121 2375811 or 07703535841